2016 charity plan

This is our plan for our 2016 charitable giving. Our ongoing goal is to spend 10% of our annual budget on charity (minus big ticket items like house purchase and renovations.) Here is the breakdown:

Charity notes category scope Final %
education global 1.4
AMF malaria health global 15.2
Cool Earth global warming environment global 6.2
SCI parasites health global 11
Deworm the World parasites health global 9
Give Directly poverty human services global 8.3
Manos De Christo Austin homeless human services local 5.5
Elephant Sactuary tenessee animals national 1.4
Cure Alzheimer's Fund gene mapping -> cure health national 2.1
charity navigator meta! research national 1.4
Meals on Wheels Austin elderly/poverty care human services local 5.5
ACLU civil rights politics national 5.5
Sierra Club environmental environment national 5.5
Southern Poverty Law social justice politics national 4.1
Planned Parenthood reproductive human services national 5.5
represent.us bottom-up anti-corruption politics national 4.1
pro publica journalism non profit politics national 4.1
union of concerned scientists science advocacy politics national 4.1

This year we have greatly increased the share of our giving to national causes. Mostly this is because we no-longer trust the US federal government to do a good job in areas we care about, like civil liberties, social justice, global warming, and education. But a big portion remains focussed on global problems like Malaria.

These are all (technically) non-partisan causes, but in addition I may seek out and support particular politicians and political organizations.

election reaction

I'm overwhelmed.

I see a lot of people struggling to process it, like me. I see some posts trying to tell other people how to feel about it. I don't think this is the right time for that. Here's how I feel.

I feel guilty. I was worried and stressed about this election to the exclusion of work, for a month. But I didn't do anything, other than vote. I could have done more, and I knew it at the time. So I feel guilty. I have friends who feel (reasonably, in my opinion) threatened by the election results. I feel bad that I didn't do more to prevent this outcome.

I am an atheist*, and an elitist. I believe in science, reason, and progress. I subscribe to humanism and feminism and multiculturalism. I believe that intellectual honesty is a prime virtue. In this election, one of the candidates was well aligned with my values, and the other was not, and I didn't do very much about it. I did vote at least.


Yes. I believe that knowledge and experience matter, that science helps us make good decisions, and that people who have studied and practiced subject are better at it. I don't believe that an uninformed opinion is worth as much as an informed one.

There's another meaning of elitist, which is more about judging which people are worthwhile and which are not. I don't identify with that, I try not to act that way, but I can see why people can get that impression of my tribe. Empathy is hard work, and human beings often just skip it.

So, I feel guilty, and I want to start helping move the country forward. I'm not sure what that means yet. Here are a few of organizations I've been interested in:


Another idea I've been kicking around is to gamify civic engagement. Basically to take https://www.vote.org/ and smash it together with pokemon go. Here's my angle. I believe that when people are engaged with their government at all levels, they feel invested in the outcome. If you feel like government basically works, then you don't need to flip the table. You can work within the system to address your needs. So let's make civic engagement into an addicting and social experience.

But that's all speculative and distant. For now I am committed to finishing up Legacy. After, I might consider some kind of career pivot. In the meantime we will adjust our charitable giving. I want to write a post on that when we've done our homework and cut our checks.


For now, I feel bad when I go out in public. As a straight white man with a good career, I am insulated from basically everything. I likely won't face the consequences of this election personally. I don't know if I should be wearing a safety pin or something. I want to show solidarity with the people who feel personally threatened by America's new direction.

*I try not to push my atheism on other people. I think it's rude to proselytize, and I do believe in multiculturalism. I know lots of religious people who are virtuous, intellectually honest, and thoughtful. I'm not trying to say otherwise. But if you wanna argue we can argue.